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Sunday, November 11, 2012

U.S. Presidential Libraries and Museums

The methods for preserving the memory of U.S. Presidents are as diverse as they are unique. Here are just a few of the different types of sites and memorials that have been established:
  • Presidential library
  • Museum
  • Residence
    • Birthplace
    • Home before becoming president
    • Home during presidency
    • Home after presidency
  • Burial site

The responsibility for maintaining these different sites also broadly varies. Some are maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration of the U.S. Federal Government. Others are managed by other public and private organizations.

Presidential Libraries
The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center was officially the first to break ground. in 1912. The Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Library & Museum opened in 1916.The museum was located near the Spiegel Grove house and grounds that were also donated and eventually opened to the public. Later the Hayes museum served as an example for President Franklin D. Roosevelt's Library & Museum, also situated near President Roosevelt's house in Hyde Park, New York.

In 1939 President Franklin Roosevelt donated his papers to the Federal government. At that time Roosevelt also formed a non-profit to raise funds to build a library and museum on his Hyde Park, New York estate. Eventually this program of Presidential libraries expanded and grew so that every President since Herbert Hoover now has a Presidential library officially administered by the National Archives. These libraries today maintain vast archives available for scholarly research. There are now 13 such libraries in operation.

31. Herbert Hoover, Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum, West Branch, Iowa
32. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, Hyde Park, New York
33. Harry S. Truman, Harry S. Truman Presidential Museum and Library, Independence, Missouri
34. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, Abilene, Kansas
35. John F. Kennedy, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Dorchester, Massachusetts
36. Lyndon B. Johnson, Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, Austin, Texas
37. Richard Nixon, Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, Yorba Linda, California
38. Gerald R. Ford, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, Grand Rapids, Michigan
38. Gerald R. Ford, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library, Ann Arbor, Michigan
39. Jimmy Carter, Jimmy Carter Library and Museum, Atlanta, Georgia
40. Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Simi Valley, California
41. George H. W. Bush, George Bush Presidential Library & Museum, College Station, Texas
42. Bill Clinton, William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park, Little Rock, Arkansas
43. George W. Bush, George W. Bush Presidential Center, Dallas, Texas

Of the remaining 31 presidents without a Presidential library run by the National Archives (including President Obama), there are nine other Presidential libraries either privately or publicly owned and operated. Of these, the Fred W. Smith National Library at Mount Vernon (that has yet to be constructed), will be the only one to be built and maintained without any government funding.

1. George Washington, Fred W. Smith National Library at Mount Vernon (Under Construction), Mount Vernon, Virginia, run by Mount Vernon Ladies Association  
6. John Quincy Adams, Stone Library at Adams National Historical Park, Quincy, Massachusetts, run by National Park Service  
16. Abraham Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Springfield, Illinois, run by State of Illinois 
17. Andrew Johnson, President Andrew Johnson Museum and Library, Tusculum, Tennessee. 
18. Ulysses S. Grant, Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library, Starkville, Mississippi, run by Mississippi State University & Ulysses S. Grant Association
19. Rutherford Hayes, Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center, Fremont, Ohio, run by Ohio Historical Society & Hayes Presidential Center, Inc.  
25. William McKinley, William McKinley Presidential Library and Museum, Canton, Ohio, run by Stark County Historical Society  
28. Woodrow Wilson, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library, Staunton, Virginia, run by Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library Foundation  
30. Calvin Coolidge, Calvin Coolidge Presidential Library and Museum, Northampton, Massachusetts, run by State of Massachusetts
The process of establishing a Presidential library for those without one has proven to be a difficult affair. An effort is underway to create a Grover Cleveland Library in Buffalo, New York. The organization Free New York, Inc. has applied for tax-exempt status. Their website describes: "If and when we are approved, we will begin to accept donations of Grover Cleveland books and memorabilia and look for a suitable location for this museum."

An increasingly common practice has been to associate presidential libraries with major research universities.
  • James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library / University of Mary Washington
  • Andrew Johnson Museum and Library / Tusculum College
  • Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library / Mississippi State University
  • Theodore Roosevelt Collection / Harvard University
  • Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum / Marist College
  • John F. Kennedy Library and Museum / University of Massachusetts, Boston Campus
  • Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library and Museum / University of Texas at Austin
  • Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library / University of Michigan
  • George H.W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum / Texas A&M University
  • George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum / Southern Methodist University
Speculation is that when President Obama designates a location for his library, that both the University of Hawaii and University of Chicago will contend for that honor. Building on the example of President Ford before him who has his library and museum in two separate cities - both in Michigan - perhaps President Obama could be the first President to have libraries in two separate states.

Presidential Museums
Of all the Presidents whose libraries are part of the NARA system, their Presidential library serves dual purpose as a presidential museum as well. This means that in addition to the library proper, there are  interactive exhibits, interesting and fun public programs, and important educational events. Of the presidents within the NARA system, President Gerald Ford is the only one to have a library and museum in separate cities. The museum is located in Grand Rapids and the library in Ann Arbor.

For those presidents outside of the NARA system or without a dedicated library of the own, a list follows of all known museums to date. Every President with the exception of Zachary Taylor, has at least one place where people can go to remember their presidency.
2. John Adams - Adams National Historic Park administered by the National Park Service with residence of John Adams and several other family members.
3. Thomas Jefferson - Monticello estate with the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies.
4. James Madison - James Madison Museum in Orange, Virginia
5. James Monroe - James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library in Fredericksburg, Virginia
7. Andrew Jackson - The Hermitage, Nashville, Tennessee . Home and museum administered by the Ladies' Hermitage Association.
8. Martin Van Buren - Martin Van Buren National Historic Site, Kinderhook, New York. Administered by the National Park Service.
9. William Henry Harrison - Grouseland, Vincennes, Indiana. House while Governor of the Indiana territory.
10. John Tyler - Sherwood Forest Plantation, Charles City, Virginia.
11. James K. Polk - James K. Polk Ancestral Home, Columbia, Tennessee.
12. Zachary Taylor - none.
13. Millard Fillmore - Millard Fillmore House, East Aurora, New York.
14. Franklin Pierce - Pierce Manse, Concord, New Hampshire.
15. James Buchanan - Wheatland, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
17. Andrew Johnson - Andrew Johnson National Historic Site, Greeneville, Tennessee.
20. James Garfield - James A. Garfield National Historic Site, Mentor, Ohio.
21. Chester A. Arthur - Chester A. Arthur State Historic Site, Fairfield, Vermont; Chester A. Arthur House, New York, New York.
22. Grover Cleveland - Grover Cleveland Birthplace, Caldwell, New Jersey.
23. Benjamin Harrison - Benjamin Harrison Presidential Site, Indianapolis, Indiana.
24. Grover Cleveland - Grover Cleveland Birthplace, Caldwell, New Jersey.
26. Theodore Roosevelt - Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, Oyster Bay, New York; Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site, New York City, New York; Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site, Buffalo, New York; Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Medora, North Dakota.
27. William Howard Taft - William Howard Taft National Historic Site, Cincinnati, Ohio.
29. Warren G. Harding - Harding Home, Marion, Ohio.
Presidential Burial Sites
The final resting place of our U.S. President's is one final way we've found to honor their role and contributions. The burial locations chosen are varied. Some are on private property such as George Washington's Mount Vernon. Others are publicly owned such as Andrew Johnson's National Historic Site and National Cemetery, Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, and many others.

Increasingly the trend has become to designate the burial site at the location of the Presidential library and museum. That tradition began with Rutherford B. Hayes, the progenitor of the first Presidential Library and Museum in 1916. Initially Hayes had been buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Fremont, Ohio, following his death in 1893. Later he was moved to a burial site at his family home near Spiegel Grove in 1915 that was very near the Presidential Museum that opened the following year.

The tradition of moving the burial site of Presidents is not uncommon. A similar treatment was given to Abraham Lincoln who was disinterred several times. 
1. George Washington, Washington's Tomb at Mount Vernon Estate, Mt Vernon, VA.
2. John Adams, United First Parish Church, Quincy, MA.
3. Thomas Jefferson, Monticello Graveyard, Monticello, VA.
4. James Madison, Madison Family Cemetery, Montpelier, VA.
5. James Monroe, Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, VA.
6. John Quincy Adams, Congressional Cemetery, Quincy, MA.
7. Andrew Jackson, The Hermitage, Nashville, TN.
8. Martin Van Buren, Kinderhook Cemetery, Kinderhook, NY.
9. William Harrison, William Henry Harrison Tomb State Memorial, North Bend, OH.
10. John Tyler, Hollywood Cemetery, Richmond, VA.
11. James Polk, Tennessee State Capitol Building and Grounds, Nashville, TN.
12. Zachary Taylor, Zachary Taylor National Cemetery, Louisville, KY.
13. Millard Fillmore, Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo, NY.
14. Franklin Pierce, Old North Cemetery, Concord, NH.
15. James Buchanan, Woodward Hill Cemetery, Lancaster, PA.
16. Abraham Lincoln, Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield, IL.
17. Andrew Johnson, Andrew Johnson National Historic Site and National Cemetery, Greeneville, TN.
18. Ulysses Grant, General Grant National Memorial, New York, NY.
19. Rutherford B. Hayes, Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center, Fremont, OH.
20. James A. Garfield, Lake View Cemetery, Cleveland, OH.
21. Chester Arthur, Albany Rural Cemetery, Albany, NY.
22. Grover Cleveland, The Princeton Cemetery, Princeton, NJ.
23. Benjamin Harrison, Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, IN.
24. Grover Cleveland, The Princeton Cemetery, Princeton, NJ.
25. William McKinley, McKinley National Memorial, Canton, OH.
26. Theodore Roosevelt, Youngs Memorial Cemetery, Oyster Bay, NY.
27. William H. Taft, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA.
28. Woodrow Wilson, Washington National Cathedral, Washington, DC.
29. Warren Harding, Harding Memorial Park, Marion, OH.
30. Calvin Coolidge, Notch Cemetery, Plymouth, VT.
31. Herbert Hoover, Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, West Branch, IA.
32. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site, Hyde Park, NY.
33. Harry S. Truman, Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum, Independence, MO.
34. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Eisenhower Presidential Center, Abilene, KS.
35. John F. Kennedy, Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, VA.
36. Lyndon B. Johnson, Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park, Stonewall, TX.
37. Richard M. Nixon, Richard Nixon Library, Yorba Linda, CA.
38. Gerald R. Ford, Gerald R. Ford and Betty B. Ford Burial Site, Grand Rapids, MI.
39. Jimmy Carter, Living, (planned for near home in Plains, GA).
40. Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Simi Valley, CA.
41. George H.W. Bush, Living, (planned for Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, TX).
42. Bill Clinton, Living, (plans unknown).
43. George W. Bush, Living, (planned for Texas State Cemetery in Austin, TX)
44. Barack Obama, Living, (plans unknown).
As has been shown, efforts to memorialize and remember our U.S. President's have varied greatly through the years. In coming years it is hoped and suspected that interest in efforts of this nature will only grow. Some day it would be a fitting tribute for most if not all U.S. President's to have a library and museum in their honor. Meanwhile, there are no shortage of Presidential sites to visit, all throughout the U.S.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

William J. Clinton Presidential Museum and Park - Little Rock, Arkansas

Entrance to the Clinton Museum. 

The William J. Clinton Presidential Museum and Park presents many unexpected surprises to the visitor that happens upon this unique site. Not grandiose, not over-the-top – this is as concise, approachable, and welcoming as Presidential museums get.

Map showing museum
and surroundings.
The museum is situated on the banks on the Arkansas River. The exhibit area of the museum proper is set atop a “base” on the ground floor that includes a welcome desk, temporary exhibition space, and other amenities for visitors. By elevating the primary exhibit floor to the second and third floor level, this is undoubtedly to ensure that artifacts and documents are well above the flood plain from the nearby river. One of the most prominent features of the site is a large railroad bridge that has been converted for pedestrian uses. A prominent view of this bridge is provided from the exhibit floor. This provides a not-so-subtle reference to “A Bridge to the 21st Century” – the theme employed by President Clinton during his 1996 campaign for a second term.

View of bridge from inside of the Clinton Museum.

Upon entering the museum visitors a greeted by a staple in nearly any presidential museum – the presidential limousine. Then by taking a nearby elevator or ascending a staircase one is transported back to the years of 1992 to 2000.

Few museums are more rationally laid out or architectural than this one. Eight large panels titled at a slight angle run down the center of the museum display floor. These each represent one year of the presidency. They have a timeline, descriptive text, and inset television screens continually streaming news coverage of important moments. One is reminded how the Clinton presidency coincided with the expansion of 24/7 Cable News coverage – exemplified by channels like CNN. The experience this creates for the visitor is to literally transport them back to the sights and sounds of the era as people who lived during that time experienced them.

The stacks clearly dividing
the museum floor.
Large stacks run from the first to second floor levels. These are reminiscent of a library and filled with what appears to be archival storage boxes. Whether these boxes contain any documents or artifacts is unclear. The role the stacks serve, however, is to create several niches or display spaces on the first and second floors.

Several niches on the bottom floor of the atrium explore different themes from the Clinton presidency. One such theme is “Putting People First.” A prominent quote is inscribed on the glass enclosing a display case behind. In that case are television monitors again, a collage of photos in the background, and other descriptive narrative text accompanied by photos. Portions of the text are highlighted to accentuate key points visitors should be drawn to.

Tilted panels laying out the Clinton presidency year-by-year.

Putting People First themed display.

On the upper floor of the atrium guests are greeted by some of the most precious artifacts including the dress that Hillary Clinton wore to the Inaugural Ball, a complete table setting with china from the Clinton White House, and a signed jersey from Lance Armstrong, the repeat-winner of the Tour de France.

Panorama of the Oval Office in the Clinton Museum.

Guests are also greeted by a replica of the Oval Office – another staple of most Presidential Museums these days. Replicas of many of the most precious paintings and artifacts stand in for the original. Visitors are only able to view the room from behind velvet ropes. Still, the space and the furnishings create a distinct impression.

In the interest of giving equal time to other branches of the Executive Office, a replica of the Cabinet room is also present. The glimpse provided into this less-frequently seen and known room was a welcome counterpoint to the Oval Office display. One has the impression that it might be possible to convene a meeting in this room today, and surely this is done from time-to-time. In contrast the Oval Office has the feel of a museum piece – to be seen but never to be used again.

View from the Clinton Museum to downtown Little Rock.

The relationship between the Clinton Museum and nearby downtown Little Rock is also an interesting one. Rather than having a gift shop within the museum proper as is frequently done, the Clinton Museum Store was located off into the downtown area. The Clinton Museum and Store are connected by a brief 1/8 mile tree-lined road. A golf cart with a trolley pulled behind provides visitors a free trip between the museum and the downtown.

Once downtown the Clinton Museum Store is located within a renovated historic building. How many people get to the store, and whether this has proven to be effective as a satellite retail operation is uncertain. Though great benefit is certainly created by attracting additional people to the downtown area, and by linking the museum with the downtown. 

There is very apparently a resurgence happening in the area around the Gift Shop downtown.  The Arkansas Studies Institute and the Clinton School of Public Services have completely taken over a three-story building that has been renovated across the street. An attractive science center and other amenities are also clustered around the Museum Store, so as a downtown revitalization tactic this clearly is a great success.

To close, the Clinton Museum demonstrates a powerful vehicle to travel between the past, present, and the future. The past is represented both by the Museum itself and the time that it seeks to capture, as well as the many well-preserved historic buildings and railroad bridge that are important parts of the Museum complex. The present and future are then experienced by each successive wave of visitors that comes to the site. The Clinton Presidential Museum presents so many admirable qualities that seem to only grow over time. Hopefully many people will be able to experience this one-of-a-kind place and the one-of-a-kind President that it seeks to interpret and explain.

While visiting the William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum I  filled out a visitor survey form as I am frequently prone to do. Just a few weeks or so after visiting I received the following message. I've filled out hundreds of forms like this and never heard anything back. This was a really nice gesture by the folks with the Clinton Museum. So much so I thought it important to share as an example for others...

On Wed, Oct 31, 2012 at 12:40 PM, Linda Leopoulos wrote:

Dear Isaac,
Thank you for visiting the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum and for sharing your thoughts with us on a visitor card.  It is always a pleasure to hear from our patrons after they have toured the museum, and it was especially nice reading your comments.  We are delighted that you enjoyed your tour and the time you spent viewing the accomplishments of the Clinton Presidency that were made by "Putting People First."
The exhibits reveal a presidency of leadership and optimism for our country and for the international arena as well.  Visitors often express renewed feelings of hope and inspiration after their tour.  Since leaving our nation's capitol, President Clinton continues to work hard to improve the lives of millions of people in the areas of health, education, poverty, economic stability, and environmental protection.  Website www.clintonfoundation.org expands on these important initiatives and on how we can all make a positive difference in the world around us.
Thank you for your interest and desire to tell others about the Library.  Current information  on exhibits and events at the Clinton Center can be found on the Center's website www.clintonpresidentialcenter.org throughout the year. 
Come back and see us!
Linda H. Leopoulos
Visitor Relations

Friday, November 2, 2012

Help Us Build a National Preservation News Network on Paper.li

Paper.liLike many others actively involved in the preservation field today, we were struck by the number of sources providing great historic preservation content on a regular basis. Regularly following all of these sources was difficult if not impossible. For that reason we utilized the Paper.li platform to publish a paper on preservation in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The purpose of this effort is to raise the profile of the preservation movement and generate a greater shared sense of purpose among the 15 million Local Preservationists in the U.S.

Paper.li is a relatively new and emerging technology that helps to agglomerate "headlines" from Twitter feeds, RSS feeds, and other sources to "publish" a daily or weekly online newspaper. The technology and interface are relatively straightforward and easy to use. After selecting a maximum of 25 sources, these then help to inform what appears in the "newspaper" each day. 

For each paper we sought to achieve a balance between sources of national interest with those of statewide and local interest. A handful of the same national sources were utilized for each state paper. These include feeds from leading national organizations such as the National Park Service (@NatlParkService), Preservation Action (@PreservationAct), and the National Trust for Historic Preservation (@PresNation). Within the National Trust we tried to capture the work being done by several of their most active components including @NatlMainStreet, @SavePlacesPres, and @PresGreenLab. Other sources providing regular content of national interest were also added including @PresnewsLink, @PreservationTV, @RestoreMedia, @histpres, and @placepromo. Taken together these sources promise reliable and high-quality content of national interest.

Added to this are up to 13 state, regional, and local sources for each state featured. To give an example of the types of sources used, see the following list for the top 5 most followed statewide papers:

@historicindiana http://feeds.feedburner.com/HistoricIndianapolis

The Paper.li platform and the Preservation Daily series of papers are as of yet in their infancy. We look forward to working with national, statewide, and other partners on fine-tuning these papers as an effective communication tool.

Here are a few things you may do to help promote the Paper.li for your state:
  1. Find your statewide paper from the list below. Go to that page and press the "Subscribe" button beneath the headline on the right side of each page.
  2. For each paper you follow press the "Share" button also beneath the headline on the right side. You may choose to "Like" on Facebook, "Tweet" on Twitter, and/or "Share" on LinkedIn. Doing so will help to encourage other people in your network to also follow the same statewide paper.
  3. Embed the paper on your blog or website with the "Nomad Widget" or embed just the headlines with the "Headlines Widget." Both may be accessed by pressing the "Share" button and the respective tabs.
  4. Each paper has a "Discussion Corner" section where you can post your own comments. 
  5. Have an organization, person, or project you want others to hear about? Tell us about it on Twitter @placepromo or Facebook.
Paper Twitter
DC Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PlacePromo
Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PlacePromo
IA Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyMW
IL Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyMW
KS Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyMW
MN Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyMW
MO Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyMW
ND Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyMW
NE Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyMW
OH Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyMW
SD Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyMW
WI Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyMW
CT Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyNE
DE Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyNE
MA Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyNE
ME Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyNE
NH Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyNE
NJ Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyNE
NY Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyNE
PA Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyNE
RI Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyNE
VT Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyNE
AL Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailySouth
FL Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailySouth
GA Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailySouth
LA Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailySouth
MS Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailySouth
NC Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailySouth
OK Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailySouth
SC Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailySouth
VA Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailySouth
WV Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailySouth
AR Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyUS
AZ Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyUS
CA Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyUS
IN Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyUS
KY Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyUS
MD Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyUS
MI Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyUS
TN Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyUS
TX Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyUS
WA Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyUS
AK Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyWest
CO Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyWest
HI Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyWest
ID Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyWest
MT Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyWest
NM Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyWest
NV Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyWest
OR Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyWest
UT Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyWest
WY Preservation Daily @PresDaily @PresDailyWest

Note that a maximum of 10 papers may be created per paper.li login. Users may login with an existing Twitter of Facebook account. For that reason we created multiple Twitter accounts that roughly correspond with different regions in the U.S. (Midwest, South, West, Northeast, etc.). 

Please feel free to post your comments below about your reactions to this project, suggestions of sources to highlight in each of our statewide papers, etc. We'll do our best to incorporate your suggestions into future papers.